Good riddance to those nay-sayers that took off this weekend to ski pow in Canada or surf the fat swell on the pacific. Everyone in the know was in Tahoe ripping the backcountry. While the resorts are hurting for snow and their product may be sub-par, the backcountry remains ever deep. As a local, you just need to know where to go to find it.
Using expert snow-detection-sense, I decided on the uber-classic Sugarbowl to Squaw traverse, a fun fifteen mile tour that follows the PCT to the Granite Chief Trail. Since I live in Squaw, I planned to start in Squaw and arrange a ride back home from the Donner Summit.
Doing my due diligence, I got up early and checked the weather and avvy forecast on the Sierra Avalanche Center’s site. Low and behold, things were looking good. The avvy danger was low. The weather was gonna be sunny! A bit of wind was the only concern with ridge-top gusts of 45 mph… I would need to keep my feelers out for wind slabs…
I packed my gear and set off to rip some backcountry soul turns. The morning air was brisk as I skinned up the Granite Chief trail. I wondered if the corn snow would develop as the day heated up since there were a few good days of melt freeze this week. Surprisingly enough, the skiing was better on the North faces. Figuring that the warm days of this week had baked the pow down to a frozen crust couldn’t have been more wrong. But that is what’s great about the backcountry: you can always find something good to ski. All you have to do is change your aspect.
I skinned up the Granite Chief trail poking around in the snow. Checking for slabs. Feeling the consistency. Making mental notes. Then I found it, the skiing everyone has been looking for this season. The deepest, fluffiest patch of north facing pow in Tahoe:
It was mind blowing. The best skiing of the season by far. The south faces were a bit firmer and thinner, but one could still set an edge and make turns. Here is some footage from the South Face of Anderson. As I said, the snow’s wasn’t quite as glorious, but it was passable.A word to the wise, if you choose to undertake this ski tour, remember to check the avalanche advisory and bring all the proper gear. I was pretty happy I packed my ski crampons:
As promised at the top of the post, here’s the full image:
Hope Weather Guy is right…we NEED snow…